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China Building Two Aircraft Carriers, According to Taiwanese Intelligence

© AP Photo / Xinhua, Li TangChinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test in the sea. (File)
Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test in the sea. (File) - Sputnik International
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China is building two aircraft carriers, according to a new report by the Taiwanese Defense Ministry, as Beijing nears what some experts say is its goal of deploying domestic-built carriers by 2020.

The report on the capabilities of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, says the two new carriers will be the same size as China's only carrier, the Liaoning. China purchased the 60,000-ton Soviet-era vessel from Ukraine in 1998.

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China has since refitted the Liaoning, which has participated in military drills, including in the disputed South China Sea, but it is not fully operational. Some military experts believe having an operational Liaoning is the first step to deploying Chinese-built carriers by 2020.

The report did not give an estimated date for when the new carriers would be completed. But as carriers are commissioned for service into China's navy, a command unit would be set up with "the goal to unify power and accelerate combat capabilities," the report added.

Taiwanese intelligence agencies closely monitor Chinese military developments because Beijing has never renounced the use of force to reclaim what it deems a renegade province, Reuters reported.

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According to the report, of China's 1.24 million-strong ground forces, 400,000 could be used in combat against the island.

The Taiwanese Defense Ministry's report adds that Beijing is at least preparing for some kind of conflict with Taipei. The PLA and Chinese special forces have held mock battles, featuring full-scale models of a Taiwanese airport, actual roads, government buildings, and even the president's office, the report said.

Ties between the countries have improved under Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou. Still, China has threatened to use force to take back Taiwan if the island ever declares its independence.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan with his Nationalist forces after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong's Communists.

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